Recently, I was chatting with a writing buddy. We’re both avid readers and we were talking about new books and new authors as well as authors who have recently disappointed us.
“By chapter three, I knew which character would somehow be locked away, who the love interest was and that he was going to betray her and have to win her back,” I said. “It was more or less the same story as her last book.”
I’m not going to name names but let’s just say that she and I rattled off a list of writers who do this. You may have to read more than one or two books, but soon you’ve got them figured out. By chapter three, you know more or less what is going to happen through out the entire book.
How do you avoid this? That’s a tough one. Initially, I was of the opinion that these writers don’t know that they are doing it. That’s where a really good agent or critique group could say, “hey, this is just like your last book.”
But when I heard my friend’s opinion, I started to wonder. Because many of the writers who do this have sold a LOT of books, she believes that they have figured out a formula that works and they are sticking with it. Obviously, their fans don’t mind.
Cookie cutter or not? I guess it all depends on what stories you have to tell.